Cardinal Blase Cupich leads a procession with the relics of his namesake saint Cardinal Blase Cupich leads a procession with the relics of his namesake saint 

Cardinal Cupich in Dubrovnik for local Feast Day celebrations

American Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, was part of the Croatian celebration of the Feast Day of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, on 3 February, celebrating Mass in the Cathedral of Mary Major and taking part in the traditional procession through the city streets with the saint’s relics.

By Neno Kužina and Paula Marija Stier

The “Festa” is a long-standing tradition of the inhabitants of Dubrovnik, this year marking its 1050th anniversary. Saint Vlaho, as he is known in the Croatian city (from the Greek word Vlasios), is considered to be the patron saint since 971, after a miraculous vision in which he warned the citizens of danger.

Local celebrations include a procession on the city’s streets with relics of Saint Blaise, as well as those of other Croatian saints which are kept in the cathedral.

Cardinal Blase Cupich led this year’s procession, alongside newly-ordained Bishop Roko Glasnović of Dubrovnik, and various Croatian prelates.

A Great Jubilee

The Archbishop of Chicago is himself of Croatian descent, and spoke a few words of the local language at the beginning of Mass, saying he was honoured to be there.

His homily was read in Croatian by local priest Fr. Marinko Šljivić, because, as the Cardinal said, "I hope that in Croatian you will be able to better feel my closeness on the day we celebrate this great Jubilee.”

Cardinal Cupich concelebrates Mass in Dubrovnik
Cardinal Cupich concelebrates Mass in Dubrovnik

Passing on the tradition of faith

In his homily, the American Cardinal spoke of the events of the year 971, when a vision of St. Blaise appeared, warning the local authorities of an upcoming invasion of Dubrovnik. This gave an opportunity to the governors to gather the citizens and protect the town.

“As we remember this event, we remember the numerous blessings we have received from our ancestors,” said Cardinal Cupich, recalling how our predecessors passed on the tradition of faith that God is always present in the events of human life, so that we can be saved.

“We need that sort of faith especially in these times of pandemic and the suffering it has brought on so many.”

Learning from the past

Humility is necessary for respecting tradition, so that we can be connected with those who have gone before us, said Cardinal Cupich, who is the grandson of Croatian immigrants to the US.

Our contemporary world keeps achieving scientific and technological advances, which can lead us to thinking that the past is worthless, or in the very least unworthy of our attention, noted the Archbishop of Chicago.

We begin to think that we have all the answers, and that we cannot learn anything from the past, he added.

Pilgrims process along the streets of Dubrovnik
Pilgrims process along the streets of Dubrovnik

Connection with ancestors

“Today we remember God’s saving works which our ancestors wished to celebrate, constituting this Feast Day. They looked toward the future, and made our gathering in this beautiful and free town possible.”

“They would also wish for us to believe that what God did for them more than a thousand years ago is also continued today, so that, whilst the world is suffering in this time of pandemic, we can be comforted by Jesus’ words in the Gospel: ‘Do not be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows.’”

Cardinal Cupich concluded his homily on a personal note, saying that he himself is connected to his ancestors in a special way on the Feast Day of St. Blaise, since his grandfather was born on the Saint’s feast day in 1887, in the small village of Donji Andrijevci in the Croatian region of Slavonia.

“I can give you this message because he, and many other of our ancestors, had faith in God,” he said.

Croatian Bishops in procession
Croatian Bishops in procession

In communion with various Croatian bishops

Several local Croatian Bishops concelebrated the Mass with Cardinal Cupich, including Bishop Glasnović, as well as the Archbishop of Split-Makarska, Marin Barišić, and the Coadjutor Archbishop, Dražen Kutleša as well as various bishops of the Split ecclesiastical province.

Archbishop Želimir Puljić of Zadar and the Coadjutor Archbishop of Rijeka, Mate Uzinić, both former bishops of Dubrovnik, were also present, as well as a former priest of the local diocese, Bishop Petar Palić of Mostar-Duvanj.

Among the prelates were also Archbishop Rrok Gjollenshaj of Bar and Bishop Ilija Janjić, the bishop emeritus of Kotor.

04 February 2022, 12:23